Zinedine Zidane's retirement was delayed again last night, until Saturday at least, after the 34-year-old captain of France inspired his team to a dramatic 3-1 victory against Spain that earned them a quarter-final with Brazil. "Brazil is going to be special," said France coach Raymond Domenech.
Trailing to David Villa's 28th-minute penalty, the end of an era seemed nigh. Then Frank Ribéry levelled the scores shortly before the break. With seven minutes left, Patrick Vieira, who answered his own critics with a strong performance, put France ahead and Zidane delivered the coup de grâce.
"If there is any extra happiness to be found in our victory it is in Zidane," Domenech said. "We knew everyone was expecting something from him and he delivered. He is 34 years old and was able to run all the way up to the end of the pitch at the end of the match and score."
Vieira added: "So many people did not expect us to win. We are pleased to prove them wrong. We know what we are capable of because of the players we have in our team. We have improved every game and I'm sure we can do so again against Brazil."
The win was not without controversy. Vieira's goal followed a foul on Thierry Henry by Carles Puyol. Henry claimed, without apparent evidence, that he had been caught in the face.Reuse content